Rumors: Kyrgyz president taking refuge on U.S. airbase?

Eurasianet reports on the latest from the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek where at least 21 people have been killed. Stores are being looted, the office of the state broadcaster has been raided and automatic weapons fire has been exchanged between rioters and security forces. There are reports of black smoke rising from the parliament building.  ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images

Eurasianet reports on the latest from the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek where at least 21 people have been killed. Stores are being looted, the office of the state broadcaster has been raided and automatic weapons fire has been exchanged between rioters and security forces. There are reports of black smoke rising from the parliament building. 

The whereabouts of President Kurmanbak Bakiyev are still unknown but rumors are flying: 

The whereabouts of President Bakiyev as of the evening of April 7 could not be verified. Some rumors circulating in the city suggested that he had taken refuge at the US air base at Manas, outside of Bishkek. Other reports claimed that he had fled the country. Opposition leaders, including Omurbek Tekebayev and Almazbek Atambayev, were reportedly released after being taken into custody on April 6.

Eurasianet reports on the latest from the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek where at least 21 people have been killed. Stores are being looted, the office of the state broadcaster has been raided and automatic weapons fire has been exchanged between rioters and security forces. There are reports of black smoke rising from the parliament building. 

The whereabouts of President Kurmanbak Bakiyev are still unknown but rumors are flying: 

The whereabouts of President Bakiyev as of the evening of April 7 could not be verified. Some rumors circulating in the city suggested that he had taken refuge at the US air base at Manas, outside of Bishkek. Other reports claimed that he had fled the country. Opposition leaders, including Omurbek Tekebayev and Almazbek Atambayev, were reportedly released after being taken into custody on April 6.

Earlier in the day, Bakiyev declared a state of emergency following initial clashes between police and protesters outside the government headquarters. During the afternoon, demonstrators drove two trucks into the White House gates. They caught fire as Ministry of Interior forces stationed within the compound shot at the vehicles with what appeared to be live ammunition, a EurasiaNet.org correspondent witnessed.

Bakiyev himself took power in the 2005 "Tulip Revolution," overthrowing authoritarian President Askar Ayakev, but his tenure has been marked by increasing authoritarianism and corruption. 

If Bakiyev were actually taking refuge at Manas, it would be ironic. The presidents numerous threats to shut down the facility have been a perpetual annoyance to the Pentagon, which relies on Manas to bring goods into Afghanistan. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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